Booed off at half time. Polite applause at full time. These are bizarre times at Villa Park. As poor an Aston Villa side as you are likely to see, falls back into the drop zone and its looking increasingly difficult to see a way out.
What’s even stranger seems the clubs resignation to this happening.
The first half showing from Villa was as bad a 45 minutes as the side have delivered. Individual performances aside, this was also a nonsensical tactical display from Lambert.
The inclusion of the statuesque Bent and woeful Bennett really underlines the naivety or stubbornness of the man at the helm. Whatever formation or system employed, it is a huge failure that is repeated week after week.
Villa were over run from the off by a misfiring Newcastle side, who soon opened the scoring through Cisse. He must love playing against us, with us gift wrapping chances for him as we did.
With heads down the inevitable
2nd was artfully put away by Cabaye. A fine finish, but another poor clearance straight to the dangerous forward. It was shambolic, clueless and predictable from the very first minute.
Lambert may point to N’Zogbia’s lashed drive crashing back off the post as an example of our bad luck. The reality was that an ambitious strike from distance was our best chance.
So, booed off at half time, off they trudged for a stern dressing down.
The second half performance has been widely misreported. Villa ran around a lot and looked busy but could not maintain any sort of momentum to overhaul the deficit.
Wiemann’s introduction gave us
greater energy and desire Darren Bent would do well to emulate. Agbonlahor injected welcome pace and occasional width. He terrified the full back, but not nearly enough.
However, the final ball time after time was truly awful. Our passing continues to be either laboured or hurried unnecessarily or just plain old bad football. Bannan is the obvious weak link, showing occasional glimpses of a footballer buried amongst otherwise very poor play. In a team where there is no shortage of candidates for scapegoat, he is desperate to underperform his colleagues. Atrocious.
The Villa goal came from the spot after good early pressure in the half. Benteke dispatched with ease. The fight back was on, but alas, never came to fruition.
The frustration as a supporter looking on was that Villa had Newcastle in absolute disarray on a number of occasions but failed to capitalise. The Magpies were repeatedly hoofing the ball back and inviting pressure, but not one of our players grasped this advantage and made them pay.
Wiemann was exceptionally unlucky when superbly found by Benteke in acres of space. The young Austrian forced a save from Krul whilst also taking a hit for the team in the process. Wiemann and Benteke will
be the catalysts for Villa escaping the drop if played together often enough.
Lambert must address this lack of urgency and wisdom as they will be central to our (inevitable) fate if left unchecked. Hours of sideways passing is pointless. Aimless floated balls into the box is pointless. Persevering with an incomprehensible system is pointless.
And thus, another vital game slipped away from us. Lambert has referred to a standing ovation at the end. That’s because we love our club, despite the malaise and lack of desire to make it competitive again by whoever is in charge. We support the club.
One final word on Newcastle.
It was easy to see why they are where they are. For all of the lauded talent, they possess little in the way of a potent force or a team ethic. Indeed much of their attacking was disjointed and their defending made up of last ditch clearances or fortuitous in ricochets/bounces.
Also there was a display of such unsporting behaviour over 90 minutes that a competitive game was virtually ruined. The constant lying around, diving, rolling around and petulance on show was an embarrassment. Embarrassing in the sense that that was the only way they could beat probably the worst top flight Villa team in memory.
Newcastle are by no means out of it, especially with hapless Pardew in charge. Their desperate victory last night further reminds us how small a club they really are, if they didn’t need further reminding having been relegated on the same pitch themselves just a few years ago.
Up next for Villa is a challenge against Everton. Hard working, industrious and with Goodison hit and miss in recent years, we will have our work cut out. Villa really needed the points last night. Next time out its a must.